Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe hopes a bit of cricket practice can help keep his squad in good touch for the challenges ahead as Premier League action resumes against Norwich.
The Cherries had been in decent form going towards the international break, before a three-match unbeaten league run came to an end with 1-0 defeat at Arsenal.
With several of the first-team squad away for their countries, Howe looked to utilise some downtime to keep everyone sharp.
“We did a little bit of team building. The players went and visited the academy, which was really nice, so we have filled time in a productive way,” Howe said.
“We played a bit of cricket as part of the team building, no staff, players only.
“There were some unusual techniques – techniques I had not seen before in terms of how you hold a cricket bat and a cricket ball, but I was all good fun.”
Bournemouth return to the serious matter of Premier League action with a couple of the returning players carrying “slight concerns” from international duty.
“In the main, when you lose your players for that period of time and you have games ahead, you are always slightly fearful how they are going to come back, but we can be relatively pleased,” said Howe.
Defender Adam Smith could be welcomed back into the squad following seven weeks out with a hamstring problem.
“We have had to take our time,” Howe told a press conference. “It wasn’t an absolute clear low-grade strain, so we had to be careful with him.”
Norwich have seen their own injury crisis ease somewhat over the international break.
Daniel Farke’s promoted side were quickly brought down to earth following a memorable 3-2 home win over Manchester City, which was followed with three straight defeats – the last being a 5-1 thrashing by Aston Villa at Carrow Road.
Howe, though, will not underestimate the Canaries.
“I think they have been really impressive. I watched their first game against Liverpool – they got beaten, but I thought they did really well in the game,” the Bournemouth manager said.
“I admire any team that has a philosophy and sticks with it. They are an attacking team, a brave team with good technical players.
“They beat Manchester City which we know is incredibly difficult to do. So full credit to them for that result and I think it shows their capabilities.
“We will have to be very good in all aspects of our play because they are a dangerous team.”
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